Northern Ireland keeps wages board

The Ulster Farmers Union has accused Northern Ireland agriculture minister Michelle Gildernew of “retaining unnecessary red tape” in the industry, following her decision to keep the Agricultural Wages Board.

“The UFU has advocated that, with the national minimum wage structure in place, the AWB is an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy for farmers,” said president Kenneth Sharkey.

“It is very disappointing that, after all our efforts to highlight the problem of red tape in the farming industry, this tier of bureaucracy is going to be retained.”

The UFU leader also accused the minister of being at odds with her party, Sinn Fein, which had previously supported the removal of the AWB.

But Mrs Gildernew said the AWB was needed to protect farm workers in a way that the national minimum wage could not.

 “I am disappointed at the UFU’s criticism of my decision to retain the AWB, which protects the rights of employees not represented by UFU.

“The abolition of the AWB would place agricultural workers in the North at a disadvantage when compared with workers elsewhere.”

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